Friday, May 23, 2008

Laughing Matter

Because we are brilliant, my friend K and I decided it would be a fantastic idea to pack up our kids and their assorted bikes, trikes and scooters and take them to a park for an outside playdate.

Yeah. Did I mention it was raining? By the time I pulled up behind her at the park, I noticed another mom in a familiar minivan frantically loading her kids' gear into the back as the rain came down. It was my neighbor, who at least got a few minutes of play out of her kids before the heavens opened.

What to do? The mall, natch. They have this thingy that projects various screens onto the floor. When the kids jump on it, they can stomp virtual balls into baskets or make flowers explode into cellphones. Tons of fun. If you can keep four of them on it. Which we did. For about five minutes.

But the fountains proved a greater attraction. As did the fire engine carts. As was anything that sent each child in a different directions.

We decided to herd them over to the food court, which lucky for them, involved the thrill ride of the escalator. These particular pieces of machinery freak me out: I have vivid memories of my brother running up one in Sears and falling on his face, smashing out his two front teeth and spewing more blood than a small boy should have in his body.

Anyway. Did I mention we were going to eat?

Sawyer and G took off running, with H and Sage in hot pursuit. This is where I'm thinking shock collars would come in handy. If they get too far, we just press a remote and ZAP. But I digress.

I have to be careful when eating out with Sawyer because of his peanut allergy. K and her kids went to the Japanese place, so we went with the old standby. McDonalds. And for all of you who are horrified that I feed my kids that, well, that's nothing compared to when I get out the Fry Daddy at home and we deep fry chocolate frosting to slather onto our twinkies.

The wait at McD's took forever and the kids were antsy. Finally, their food was ready and I took my two and K's two and we found a seat. The kids were trying their best to scale a giant pineapple sculpture. K soon arrived, and I wandered over to Panda Express.

I just wanted me some orange chicken, but it costs more to get one item than it does for two, so onto the plate was dumped some chicken with green beans. And chow mein noodles.

The thing is, the plate weighed as much as a large housecat. Every time I get PE, I think "There's no possible way I can eat this tub 'o grease" and then five minutes later, I've managed to shovel most of it in.

When I returned to the table, K was chatting with an older woman, who I assumed she knew. Turned out, she didn't. It was the woman's birthday.

"Seeing how well-behaved all your kids are really warms my heart," she said.

Wha? What kids?

I immediately looked around for those nice people in the white coats. Because surely this woman was INSANE!

I tried to gently explain that their mouths were full of food so they were momentarily quiet.

Then she said: "It goes by so fast. My kids are all grown and I miss this. It's hard to see it when you're in the middle of it, but laugh a lot. Don't spend too much time being mad."

And you know what? She's right.

Soon Sage won't acknowledge me and Sawyer will spend more time holed up in his room than breathing fresh air.

Some days it's easier to soak it all in than others. A little reminder was definitely needed - and appreciated.

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